In Crystal Cruises®, Destination Adventures

Discovering Berlin’s Backstories

By Mimi Kmet

Berlin is perhaps best known for its role in World War II and the infamous Berlin Wall, which physically divided the city for 28 years. But this bustling metropolis encompasses much more history. And luxury cruise guests on two Crystal Symphony voyages — exploring the Baltic Region and the North Sea, respectively — next year will have the opportunity to experience Berlin in-depth during a three-night, inclusive Extended Land Program, which will take them to some of history’s most significant sites, while also showcasing the city’s modern role as a metropolitan, cultural, culinary, and innovative hub.

The program has been carefully crafted by Crystal’s expert team and shore-side partners and will feature several well-known sites with their own backstories, including a few tidbits that may not be as well-known. Among them:

Berlin Cathedral (Photo by
The Cathedral (Dom) of Berlin
(Photo by

Berlin Cathedral: This church originally opened its doors in 1454 as the Roman Catholic St. Erasmus Chapel. Since then, it has been converted to the Lutheran and Lutheran & Reformed faiths before becoming a Prussian Union church in 1817.

Berlin Wall Documentation Center at Bernauer Strasse: A year-old permanent exhibition, “1961 | 1989. The Berlin Wall” at the documentation center tells the story of Berlin’s division between east and west. Spanning over 4,500 square feet, the multimedia exhibition shows what led up to the Wall’s construction — and destruction — via artifacts, biographical documents and audiovisual tools.

Brandenburg Gate: Designed to emulate the gateway to Athens’ Acropolis, Brandenburg Gate was originally built between 1788 and 1791 as a sign of peace. After becoming a Nazi Party symbol during World War II and a symbol of separation between East and West Berlin during the Wall years, it now represents German unity.

Brandenburg Gate Illuminated Entrance, Berlin (Photo by
Brandenburg Gate
(Photo by

Clärchens Ballhaus: Clärchens Ballhaus, a historic nightclub and restaurant where Crystal guests will enjoy dinner and a swing dance performance, has been through a quite a bit since it opened in 1895 as a ballroom. Among other uses, it was an event site for World War I widows, a command center for German troops during World War II, and a stable for Russian troops during World War II. It was even rented out for illegal sword fights for a time.

Museum Island: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Museum Island is home to five museums, including the Neues (New) Museum, which boasts the famed Nefertiti bust among its works of Classicism, Romanticism, the Biedermeier era, Impressionism, and early Modernism. The other four museums are Pergamonmuseum (antiquities, Middle Eastern art, Islamic art); Bode-Museum (sculptures, Byzantine art, coins and medals); Altes (Old) Museum (Greek and Roman antiquities); and Alte Nationalgalerie (19th-century paintings and sculptures).

The Berlin program is included post-cruise with the June 22 “Baltic Discovery” cruise from Stockholm to Berlin (13 days including land program), or pre-cruise with the June 29 “North Sea Medley” voyage from Berlin to Amsterdam (10 days including land program).

“Book Now” fares are available through December 30.

 Featured Image: Graffiti on the east side of the Berlin Wall, pre-deconstruction (Photo by


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